SUDBURY, March 12, 2003 –New field research activities for the Sudbury Soils Study are being launched this week including interviews of local anglers on Ramsey Lake to find out more about their catches. Commonly called a “creel survey”, the research is being led by Dr. John Gunn of the Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit of the Department of Biology at Laurentian University.
The creel survey is an important part of the two-year long Sudbury Soils Study that is evaluating the potential for human health and ecological effects of metals found in the Sudbury area. Dr. Gunn and his technicians will be collecting information on the species, size and number of fish harvested from the lake by Sudbury anglers. In the spring, some fish of the same species will be collected for tissue analysis of metal levels. This work supplements on-going creel surveys in other Sudbury area lakes.
"Creel" is an old term for a wicker basket that anglers once used to hold their catch. For the remainder of the ice fishing season, and into the spring, Gunn’s technicians will be asking each angler about the species of fish caught, and take weight and length measurements to determine average fish size. They will also determine how much fish the anglers intend to eat. Asking for only a few moments of each angler’s time, the results will help in evaluating the harvest rate of fish from this important recreational lake in the heart of the City of Sudbury.
“This survey will provide very valuable site-specific information which will assist in the assessment of the potential exposure of anglers to certain metals known to occur in the Sudbury area,” said Dr. Chris Wren, Director of the SARA Group which is conducting the Sudbury Soils Study. “Although this is generally referred to as the Sudbury Soils Study, we will be examining all aspects of the environment, including important features such as lake water quality and the fisheries. The quality of fish tissue is a good indicator of water quality, and also enables us to determine if metal levels in Sudbury area fish are within limits considered safe for human consumption established by regulatory bodies.”
The Sudbury Soils Study is a community-wide undertaking to accurately measure the levels of various metals in the local environment. It is the most comprehensive and scientifically demanding study of its kind ever done in Canada. Thousands of soil samples have been taken from throughout the region and are being carefully analysed to assess their contents. From these soil assessments, and other research, the community will learn of any risks these elements may pose to human health and/or the health of the environment. Final results are expected early in 2005. Partners in the study include Inco Limited, Falconbridge Limited, The Ontario Ministry of Environment, The City of Greater Sudbury, The Sudbury & District Health Unit, Health Canada – First Nation and Inuit Health Branch.